Category Archives: Natural Living
Training tips as well as nutrition for athletes and regular people. Help your training evolve by learning these techniques.
The hard, brown coconut found in the produce section of the supermarket is actually the stone of a mature coconut fruit, similar to a peach stone. When the coconut is cracked open, there’s a thin coating surrounds the inner flesh, then the white, coconut meat. This fiber-rich coconut meat aids in digestion and provides iron and other minerals to your diet, but be aware that it is high in fat.
Iron and Other Minerals
A serving of coconut adds almost 2 milligrams of iron to your diet, which is about 11 percent of the recommended daily intake. Your metabolism uses iron to help carry oxygen through your bloodstream to all parts of your body. Coconut also provides 160 milligrams of potassium, which helps regulate your heartbeat, and 51 milligrams of phosphorus for strengthening your teeth and skeletal system.
Both expeller-pressed and cold-pressed coconut oil are good options for your health, but the one that’s best for you depends on what you’re using it for. Cold-pressed coconut oil is made in a heat-controlled environment and processed at temperatures that never exceed 120 degrees, according to “Coconut Oil for Beginners” by Rockridge Press. This results in a high-quality oil. Expeller-pressed coconut oil is also good quality but is processed at higher temperatures, typically around 210 degrees. By comparison, refined coconut oils are processed at upward of 400 degrees, which degrades the quality of the oil and requires further processing methods such as bleaching and deodorizing.
There are also slight differences in nutritional value of the oils. Coconut oil is comprised mostly saturated fat, along with some unsaturated fat and trace amounts of vitamins E and K, as well as iron. It also contains phenolic compounds, which are antioxidant substances that neutralize potentially harmful chemicals called free radicals. Because cold-pressed coconut oil is processed at lower temperatures, it contains a higher phenolic and nutrient content than expeller-pressed oil, according to “Coconut Oil for Beginners.”
Make Your Own Cold Pressed Coconut Oil
As an alternative to mechanical pressing in an expeller press, you can first shred fresh coconut copra straight from the shell with the testa removed. While this is not a very efficient method of extraction, it is simple. Place the shredded coconut into a large piece of cheese cloth. Twist the cheese cloth to press the shredded coconut. Gather the liquid in a clean bowl. Pour the liquid into a jar and allow the oil to separate from the coconut milk. Place the jar in the freezer and allow the milk to freeze completely. Then, simply pour the coconut oil off into a bottle for storage.
Diet Truth or Myth: Eating at Night Causes Weight Gain
Eating at night has long been associated with weight gain. Years ago, nutrition pioneer Adele Davis gave her well-known advice to “eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.”
Yet the conventional wisdom today is that a calorie is a calorie, regardless of when you eat it, and that what causes weight gain is simply eating more calories than you burn. Nutrition experts call this the calorie in/calorie out theory of weight control.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Weight Control Information Network web site, “it does not matter what time of day you eat. It is what and how much you eat and how much physical activity you do during the whole day that determines whether you gain, lose, or maintain your weight.”
A study in the journal Obesity added to the confusion by suggesting that there may be more to nighttime eating than just overeating calories. Northwestern University researchers found that eating at night led to twice as much weight gain — even when total calories consumed were the same. But this research was done on mice, not humans, and the reason for the weight gain is unknown. And a single mouse study should not cause us to toss out the wealth of evidence supporting the calorie in/calorie out theory.
Still, there are good reasons to be cautious about eating at night. Diet books, dietitians, and even Oprah recommend not eating after dinner (other than a small, calorie controlled snack) because it’s just so easy to overdo it.
People eat at night for a variety of reasons that often have little to do with hunger, from satisfying cravings to coping with boredom or stress. And after-dinner snacks tend not to be controlled. They often consist of large portions of high-calorie foods (like chips, cookies, candy), eaten while sitting in front of the television or computer. In this situation, it’s all too easy to consume the entire bag, carton, or container before you realize it. Besides those unnecessary extra calories, eating too close to bedtime can cause indigestion and sleeping problems.
(This type of nighttime eating is not to be confused with the medical condition “night eating syndrome,” which requires professional medical attention.)
There’s nothing wrong with eating a light, healthy snack after dinner as long as you plan for it as part of your daily calories. To keep from overeating, pay attention to your food while eating, avoid eating in front of the TV, and choose a portion-controlled snack. Some good options are packaged 100 calorie snacks, small servings of popcorn, ice cream bars, low-fat yogurt or fruit.
When you’re trying to lose weight, eat regular meals and consume 90% of your calories before 8 p.m. In addition, eat most of your complex carbs and starches before 3 p.m. before your metabolism slows down a bit. The benefit of eating meals every three to four hours is it helps regulate your blood sugar, and thus control hunger and cravings.
The bottom line: More research is needed on humans to determine whether calories eaten at night are more likely to cause weight gain than those eaten early in the day. But if you want to burn calories at night eat the highest good fats (ie. avocado, salmon, sardines) at night as well as low sugar fruits like blueberries and grapefruit. It will help with glucose production and not store it as fat. I myself saw the most benefits from this practice. Just think of the reverse effect of someone trying to build muscle and loading up 50 grams of protein drinks at night prior to sleeping. You grow when you rest. So eat to train. Train to live. Live to evolve! #NOEXCUSES
Lots of people don’t realize the true importance of drinking enough water everyday and how it can impact both your health and your weight loss efforts. According to experts in a recent study, drinking just 2 cups of water, which is smaller than the size of a bottled soda, before meals helped dieters lose an extra five pounds yearly and help you maintain your weight loss. Additionally drinking the right amount of water daily can actually speed up your metabolic rate and help to curb overeating when your body confused hunger and thirst. But how much water is enough? Here is how to calculate how much water you should drink a day for both health and weight loss benefits.
Your weight: The first step to knowing how much water to drink everyday is to know your weight. The amount of water a person should drink varies on their weight, which makes sense because the more someone weighs the more water they need to drink. A two hundred pound man and 100 pound woman require different amounts of water every day.
Multiply by 2/3: Next you want to multiple your weight by 2/3 (or 67%) to determine how much water to drink daily. For example, if you weighed 175 pounds you would multiple that by 2/3 and learn you should be drinking about 117 ounces of water every day.
Activity Level: Finally you will want to adjust that number based on how often you work out, since you are expelling water when you sweat. You should add 12 ounces of water to your daily total for every 30 minutes that you work out. So if you work out for 45 minutes daily, you would add 18 ounces of water to your daily intake.
To make it a littler easier to calculate how much water to drink everyday, here are the recommended amounts for a range of weights. Remember to adjust for your activity level.
Weight Ounces of Water Daily
100 pounds 67 ounces
110 pounds 74 ounces
120 pounds 80 ounces
130 pounds 87 ounces
140 pounds 94 ounces
150 pounds 100 ounces
160 pounds 107 ounces
170 pounds 114 ounces
180 pounds 121 ounces
190 pounds 127 ounces
200 pounds 134 ounces
210 pounds 141 ounces
220 pounds 148 ounces
230 pounds 154 ounces
240 pounds 161 ounces
250 pounds 168 ounces
Tips for Reaching Your Daily Water Goals
So now that you know how much water you should be drinking everyday, let’s talk about how to make sure you actually get enough. Drinking over 100 ounces of water may seem impossible at first, but with these easy tips you can reach your goal in no time.
Drink 2 cups (16 oz) of water before every meal: Science has proven that drinking 2 cups of water before every meal helps you to eat less during meal time and lose weight. If you do this three times daily – at breakfast, lunch, and dinner – you have already consumed 48 ounces of water.
Morning and Night: Get into the habit of drinking one glass (16 oz) of water when you wake up and another 8 oz glass before you go to sleep every night. This will add another 24 ounces of water to your daily intake. The easiest way to do this is to keep a glass or container of water at your bedside, that way as soon as you wake up and start your day, you can begin drinking water.
Keep Track By Your Container: One thing that has proven to help people consumer enough water daily is to buy a special container for their water, like this one or this one, and set a goal of how many times they will fill an finish the container. For example, if you buy a 16 oz container and need to drink 80 ounces of water a day, your goal would be to drink 5 of those daily. Need to drink more water? Try a larger container.
Infuse Your Water With Flavor: Water doesn’t have to be boring and infusing your water with fruit, herbs, and other flavors can make it much easier to reach your daily goal. Try adding cucumber, strawberries,lemons, limes, and fresh herbs to create flavorful water. This fruit infusion water pitcher is a great way to always have great tasting water on hand.
Bubbles: Consider carbonated and sparkling water in addition to regular water. Many people find that adding sparkling water and 0 calorie flavored water makes drinking water throughout the day more fun. Find yourself drinking lots of expensive sparkling water? Consider buying a sodastream and make your own delicious sparkling beverages at home.
Lastly – DO NOT FORGET ABOUT SALT. A pinch of salt per 10lbs of body weight.
21 DAY PALEO CHALLENGE
I am challenging you to take a new aggressive Paleo Challenge. This one will break you but piece you back together where you need to be – healthy, lean, and sexy. Sugar including fruits are now going to be cut down to a halting (2) fruits a day unless specified. Sugar is our enemy and is the caused for diabetes and other health related issues. So this month we will limit them.
Here are the rules. You must choose your proteins, complex carbs, fats, and fruits before challenge. You will need a measuring container to eat from or to use to measure your food. The ideal size is the size of your fist. If you can put your fist in a container with minimal space left it’s perfect. The appropriate container are 9.5 oz lunch/snack containers.
Standard version will have 3 day cycle between >>
Regular days (3 protein, 1 high Carbs, 2 fats, 2 fruits).
Fat days (4 fats, 1 carb, 2 fruit).
High Carb day (3 high carbs, no fats, 2 fruits)
**Veggies can be unlimited throughout the three cycles.
Same set-up as above but half the amount of fruits and fats.
Ask Mickel if you want this one. You will need to be monitored.
- Here are the protein values:
Men: 3 proteins a day
Women: 2 proteins a day
– Eggs (6 with yolk total during the week/unlimited egg whites)
– Lean beef (83% and up lean)
– Legumes (for Vegans)
Complex Carb(s):Complex carbohydrate foods are basically those in wholegrain form such as wholegrain breads, oats, muesli and brown rice. Complex carbs are broken down into glucose more slowly than simple carbohydrates and thus provide a gradual steady stream of energy throughout the day. Natural carbs are also a better choice when losing weight on the GI diet plan.
– Sweet Potatoes
– Brown Rice
– String beans
– Quinoa (just added)
Healthy Fat(s):Trans fats and saturated fats are bad for you because they raise your cholesterol and increase your risk for heart disease. But monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are good for you, lowering cholesterol and reducing your risk of heart disease.
– Coconut oil
– Olive oil
WHATEVER YOUR HEART DESIRES. GO APE!
Hydration is crucial. During any diet or any activity you need to replenish your water levels. How do you find out how much to drink? Salt and water will be needed to fully hydrate yourself. So please read this new file I created to understand how much water is enough.
Go here: https://jaggedswords.wordpress.com/2014/09/02/how-to-calculate-how-much-water-to-drink/
Food(s) you are allowed:
– Almond milk
– sea salt (ie. pink or whole sea salt)
– (2) cups of fruit on allowed days – ONLY!!!!!!
NO-WAY! EAT AND DO 1,000,000 BURPEE LIST:
– Simple sugars (ie. candy, sweeteners, white sugar)
– Bad fats (ie. foods fried in canola, vegetable, etc.)
– Simple Carbs (ie. bread, pasta)
– Sports drinks or electrolyte drinks (ie. Gatorade)
– No Sugars
So here is when it gets fun. We will start with Reg->Fat->High Carb and then back to regular again.
Really control your portions within these 9.5 oz containers. Also, ask any questions about condiments, supplements. Also, it’s crucial we watch your health as this diet takes a toll on the body. Are we ready?
So what’s next?
1) Take a pic of yourself. (for your own records)
2) Weigh yourself.
3) Find clothes you have not fit into in years.
and then what?
So here is what I need.
1) Sign up!
2) I need you to post 1 of your meals daily.
3) Be honest with this. There will be no CHEAT MEALS or DAYS. It’s just 21 days. You can suck it up or have to deal with sucking it in all the time. YOU CHOOSE. Make the effort.
So it’s always funny how people hate burpees but yet bow down to cheat meals once or twice daily. Well here is a fun calculator of what it takes to burn these yummy comfort food.
WAS IT REALLY WORTH IT?
Occasionally we slip up with our diets and sneak in some junk calories. When we do, we have to pay the price…In Burpees! At Spartan Coaching HQ we have been conducting research to quantify energy expenditure during the Burpee exercise. Here is what we found:
burpees for 130lb individual
burpees for 180lb individual
1 large French Fries
1 IPA beer
1 Slice of Dominos Peperoni Pizza
1 8oz Cheesburger
1 scoop of Ben Jerry’s Cookie Dough ice cream
1 Cola soft drink
1 Fried Calamari Appetizer
1 Plain Bagel
1 Slice of Cheescake
1 Egg McMuffin Sandwich
First we calculated the amount of work being performed during the Burpee. We calculated work as:
– Work = force (f) x distance (d)
– f = weight of the individual in kilograms
– d = distance from the floor to the maximal height of the head during the jump in meters.
Male Athlete A:
– Height: 71 inches (1.80 meters)
– Weight: 180 lbs ( 81.8 kg)
– Average Vertical jump during 5 minute Burpee test: 5 in. ( .12 m)
– Total vertical displacement from the floor to maximal jump height: 1.92 m (height plus jump height)
– work = 81.8 x 1.92
– work = 157 kg/m
– Given: 1kcal = 426.4 kg/m
– Thus, 0.368 kcals of mechanical work per Burpee
External mechanical work or the work that is being performed does not equal the amount of work that is being produce internally, humans aren’t 100% efficient. Efficiency during running and cycling is about 25%, thus for the body to perform 25 kcals of external work, it must produces 100 kcals of energy internally. That means that the body has to produce 1.47 kcals of internal energy to produce 0.368 kcals of external mechanical work per Burpee repetition.
We can also calculate energy production during the Burpee exercise by measuring oxygen consumption with metabolic cart. We had several athletes perform the Burpee exercise at a constant rate for 3 minutes while wearing a portable metabolic measuring system that continuously measured oxygen consumption. The average Burpee rate was 10 Burpee repetitions per minute and average oxygen consumption during the last minute of exercise was 35 milliliters of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute (ml O2/kg/min). We found the measured oxygen cost of a single Burpee repetition to be 3.5 ml O2/kg/Burpee.
To convert oxygen cost to energy expenditure we did the following:
Example same athlete as above:
– Total oxygen consumed during a single Burpee is calculated as the product of body weight (kg) and O2 cost in ml/kg/.min
– 81.8 kg X 3.5 ml O2/kg/Burpee = 286 mlO2/Burpee or .286 liters (l) of O2/Burpee.
– One liter of oxygen is equivalent to about 5 kcals.
– 0.286 l O2 X 5 kcals/l = 1.43 kcals/Burpee.
As you can see , there is good agreement between the 2 methods (1.47 and 1.43 kcals/Burpee respectively).
Founders Breakfast Stout is one of my favorite beers. If this athlete had 2 beers at 250 kcals per beer he would need to perform 349 Burpees to burn off those calories.
2 slices of Domino’s pizza = 600 kcals or 419 burpees
Pint of Ben and Jerry’s Cookie Dough = 980 kcals or 685 burpees.
Use the chart below to figure out your Burpee equivalent of junk food calories.
Energy Expenditure During the Burpee Exercise (kcals/Burpee)
Body Weight (lbs.)
kcals per Burpee
Example – for a 140 lb person:
2 slices of Domino’s pizza = 600 kcals
600kcals/ 1.11 kcal per Burpee = 540 burpees
You can have your cake and eat it too, but be ready to pay in Burpees!
Recently came across article and I had to re-post. I do not know if it’s been scientifically tested but it’s an interesting article and can be very helpful for a lot of us. GT is special because I don’t really have a lot of charts or measurements. I go by feeling but with physio and biomechanic reference. However, a lot of our training is all about MENTAL TOUGHNESS. Shutting off that voice in your head that screams to stop and to remind you that you are weak and tired. So read on…. See if this will help.
Humans experience an array of emotions, anything from happiness, to sadness to extreme joy and depression. Each one of these emotions creates a different feeling within the body. After all, our body releases different chemicals when we experience various things that make us happy and each chemical works to create a different environment within the body. For example if your brain releases serotonin, dopamine or oxytocin, you will feel good and happy. Convexly, if your body releases cortisol while you are stressed, you will have an entirely different feeling associated more with the body kicking into survival mode.
What about when we are thinking negative thoughts all the time? Or how about when we are thinking positive thoughts? What about when we are not emotionally charged to neither positive nor negative? Let’s explore how these affect our body and life.
Positive vs. Negative
Is there duality in our world? Sure, you could say there is to a degree, but mostly we spend a lot of time defining and judging what is to be considered as positive and what we consider to be as negative. The brain is a very powerful tool and as we define what something is or should be, we begin to have that result play out in our world. Have you ever noticed, for example that someone driving can get cut off and lose their lid, get angry and suddenly they are feeling negative, down and in bad mood? Whereas someone else can get cut off while driving and simply apply the break slightly and move on with their day as if nothing happened. In this case, the same experience yet one sees it as negative while the other doesn’t. So are things innately positive and negative? Or do we define things as positive and negative?
Cut The Perceptions As Much As Possible
After thinking about it for a moment you might realize that there are in fact no positive or negative experiences other than what we define as such. Therefore our very perception of an experience or situation has the ultimate power as to how we will feel when it’s happening and how our bodies will be affected. While we can always work to move beyond our definitions of each experience and move into a state of mind/awareness/consciousness where we simply accept each experience for what it is and use it as a learning grounds for us, we may not be there yet and so it’s important to understand how certain emotions can affect our health.
“If someone wishes for good health, one must first ask oneself if he is ready to do away with the reasons for his illness. Only then is it possible to help him.” ~Hippocrates
Mind Body Connection
The connection between your mind and body is very powerful and although it cannot be visually seen, the effects your mind can have on your physical body are profound. We can have an overall positive mental attitude and deal directly with our internal challenges and in turn create a healthy lifestyle or we can be in negative, have self destructive thoughts and not deal with our internal issues, possibly even cloak those issues with affirmations and positivity without finding the route and in turn we can create an unhealthy lifestyle. Why is this?
Our emotions and experiences are essentially energy and they can be stored in the cellular memory of our bodies. Have you ever experienced something in your life that left an emotional mark or pain in a certain area of your body? Almost as if you can still feel something that may have happened to you? It is likely because in that area of your body you still hold energy released from that experience that is remaining in that area. I came across an interesting chart that explores some possible areas that various emotions might affect the body.
When you have a pain, tightness or injuries in certain areas, it’s often related to something emotionally you are feeling within yourself. At first glance it may not seem this way because we are usually very out of touch with ourselves and our emotions in this fast paced world, but it’s often the truth. When I’ve had chronic pains in my back, knees, neck or shoulders, it wasn’t exercise, physio or anything in a physical sense that healed it, it was when I dealt with the emotions behind it. I know this because I spent the time and money going to physio and even though I wanted and believed I would get better, something wasn’t being addressed still. The more I addressed the unconscious thought pattern and emotions throughout my body, the more thins loosened up and pain went away.
When you get sick or are feeling a lot of tightness and pain, often times our body is asking us to observe yourself and find peace once again within yourself and your environment. It’s all a learning and growing process we don’t have to judge nor fear.
You Have The Power
Davis Suzuki wrote in ‘The Sacred Life’, ‘condensed molecules from breath exhaled from verbal expressions of anger, hatred, and jealousy, contain toxins. Accumulated over 1 hr, these toxins are enough to kill 80 guinea pigs!’ Can you now imagine the harm you are doing to your body when you stay within negative emotions or unprocessed emotional experience throughout the body?
Remember, you have all the power in you to get through anything life throws at you. Instead of labeling with perception the concepts of negative and positive as it relates to each experience you have in your life, try to see things from a big picture standpoint. Ask yourself, how can this help me to see or learn something? Can I use this to shift my perception? Clear some emotion within myself? Realize something within another and accept it? Whatever it may be, instead of simply reacting, slow things down and observe. You will find you have the tools to process emotions and illness quickly when you see them for what they are and explore why they came up. If you believe you will get sick all the time, and believe you have pain because it’s all out of your control, you will continue to have it all in an uncontrollable manner until you realize the control you have over much of what we attract within the body.
Credits: Joe Martino of Collective Evolution
For those of you that have never heard of this edible seed it has a natural source of proteins,essential fats and vitamins. The most awesome thing about hemp hearts is that it can be added to any food. Add it to any meal, shakes, salads, veggies, and as a snack mix it with some fruit. What I have been doing lately as an evening snack to kill the urge of eating sweets is have a serving of blueberries with hemp hearts. It kills the craving and nourishes your body. Experiment and add the seeds to anything and everything you want.
No more WODS. Do only abs or yoga
Make sure any pains or strains are looked after.
Start taking your extra vitamins and 4-day prior to race carb load serious.
– Quinoa or brown rice every night.
– Sweet potatoes for lunch
– Two loads Mon and Night of chia seed drink!!!
Night Before race:
NO FIBER FOODS
Chicken or Fish – NO BEEF OR FORK
Do not eat anything creative the night before guys.
RACE DAY FOOD:
2hrs before race –
1 almond butter sandwich with hemp hearts and a banana
RACE DAY REFUEL:
Blueberry cookies or banana-almond sandwich on mile 15+
Candy high in caffeine or jelly beans
Gu Gels with maltodextrim (buy a flavor you like)
Mile 13 and 24 – Chai seed / Gatorade G2 / with Nuun tabs..
Nuun tabs in jacket or bladder pack – (1) full container
PLAN A and B:
You know your running break. Put a mile mark in your head where you will recover and walk and drink up or replenish. Map it out. Please keep us posted so we can meet you guys there. Stopping is bad but walking is not. DO NOT BE EMBARASSED TO WALK.
I hope you guys have a bag with a change plan. Overheating happens but getting cold also happens. Make sure the face and hands are always something you want to release heat or cover up to reserve heat.
How to Recover from a Tough Racing Season
Packing in multiple races this fall? Here’s how to get the most from your recovery so you can start out strong next season.
By Jenny Hadfield
October 10, 2013
I just completed my fifth marathon last weekend, and I’m looking for advice on how to recover. I had a more challenging season this year and didn’t feel as strong on race day as I’d hoped. I typically run one to two marathons and several half-marathons every year, but this year I ran twice that amount and wonder if that had something to do with my performance. Thank you very much! ~Lynne
Your question is very insightful, as it indicates you’re tuning into the many variables that can affect race-day performance (sleep, weather, fuel, training, recovery, stress, etc.). I’d lean more toward the frequency of events and your ratio to rest as a culprit since your struggle seemed to last the duration of the season. We all have rough races now and then, but when the symptoms last for longer periods of time, it means your body is trying to tell you something. Listening to your body is the true sign of a wise runner.
It’s easy to get caught up in the race craze, as there are races every weekend (and fun ones at that)! You can run in the mud, in foam, through fire, up mountains, and even have people throw things at you along the way. But even if a runner is participating in a race for fun, running frequent races without an adequate rest ratio can lead to poor performance, aches and pains, and overtraining.
There is a difference between health and performance. One requires you stay in a balanced harmony while the other requires you reach beyond the edges of your limits to see how far, high, fast, and long you can run.
The key is to train like the elite runners and invest periods of reaching with honest recovery phases during the year. This becomes even more important the harder you push to improve your performance or the more events you run in a year (or both). What goes up must come down, and when you respect the cyclical aspects of life (night/day, sun/moon, sleep/awake) and live by them, the reward is balanced health.
Everyone’s recovery varies, and trying to write the perfect recovery plan is a little like telling everyone to wear the same glasses prescription. Younger runners with a solid racing base and good nutrition may recover faster than older runners with the same background. Runners with a balanced approach to training, good nutrition, sleep, and low stress may recover faster than those that burn the candle at both ends.
It’s wise to develop your own personal recovery plan using the fundamentals of short- and long-term recovery. That is, make it yours by keeping track of activities you enjoy, your nutrition, mood, energy level, hours and quality of sleep, and more. The more you tune in and pay attention to how you’re feeling, the better you’ll be able to develop the right recovery plan for the given season.
There is short-term recovery that lasts around five to seven days and long-term recovery that lasts weeks to months.
This phase takes you from the finish of the race through several days after the event and includes all the logistics needed to heal from the demands of the event, including:
Walking for 10-15 minutes post-race to bring your body back to its resting state and flush lactic acid from the muscles.
Eating a snack within 30-40 minutes post-race to begin replenishing glycogen (carbohydrate) stores and heal muscle tissue (protein).
Soaking in a cold-water bath for 5-10 minutes and wearing compression tights for the afternoon (not while sleeping). Both can help decrease inflammation in the body and speed the rate of healing.
Sipping fluids throughout the day.
Investing five to 10 minutes in the yoga pose “Legs Up on the Wall.” It refreshes circulation, gently stretches the legs, and is a great way to internally celebrate your race (especially when wearing your medal).
Waiting at least two to six hours after the race to foam roll and at least 24 hours for a massage. This allows your muscles time to replenish fluids and energy and recover from the demands of the race.
Treating race day like a car accident, giving your body time to heal with low-impact cross-training and yin activities like restorative yoga. Because running is a high-impact sport, racing hard or frequently demands equally intense recovery. You’ll gain more by doing less with activities that are easier on the body.
Throughout the week, continuing to be active with short, easy-effort, low-impact activities (20-30 minutes elliptical, cycling, restorative yoga). The goal is to get your circulation moving and focus on mobility (foam rolling, massage) rather than train or burn calories. Your body needs downtime, especially in the first week after the race.
The muscle soreness typically subsides within three to four days post-half or full marathon, but the healing goes beyond muscle soreness. Give your body time to heal without running for a week, and stick with the activities and regimen mentioned above.
Once beyond week one, where you go next depends on your goal. If you’re in midseason and have another target race (and all things feel well), transition into easy-effort running and back into your training regimen. Typically this means a week of easy running and shorter duration, followed by a longer week of easy-effort running, and finally a week of harder-effort running blended in. Again, everyone is different, and if you’re training for multiple events within a season, read this post for more ways to transition optimally.
This phase takes you from the short-term recovery—when you can walk normally down the stairs again—through the complete healing of the season or year (including the event).
2-6 Weeks Post Season:
Invest in activities you enjoy that allow you to move in a variety of patterns and aren’t competitive. Trading one sport for another is still pushing the limits and won’t allow for optimal recovery. For instance, the fall is a great time to hike in the woods, mountain bike on trails, inline-skate, take yoga or Pilates classes, Zumba, or paddle. This is the time to move for the fun of it and give your body time off the structure of a training plan, pace, splits, and times.
Run short and easy. If you choose to run in your recovery phase, keep it short and easy and weave playful runs into the mix. For instance, running three times per week for 30-40 minutes, where one is a fartlek run with 10 to 15-second pickups sprinkled in. It’s nothing that will compromise your recovery, but it will help maintain running fitness without too much stress to the system. This works well for Type As who have a hard time backing off.
Include yin with your yang. Include complete rest days, where you move with the flow of daily life, but don’t work out. This might include doing chores around the house, walking your mail to the post office, raking leaves, walking the dog, and dancing with your significant other. Do life on low, and trust that it will rejuvenate your running just like getting a good night’s sleep.
4-6 Weeks Post Season:
Coming off the recovery season is an exciting time because you’re well rested and healed from the training season, eager to get started on your next goal, and ready to begin training. This is the time to build your base with easy-effort running (aerobic), which sets the tone for the rest of the season.
Running your best depends greatly on best recovery practices. Tune in, plan ahead, and recover hard. It will allow you to run strong for the rest of your life.
Here are some Yoga poses:
YOGA VIDEO 1
YOGA VIDEO 2
As you know I am a huge advocate of ice baths. Here are a few recipes to even kick up your recovery.
Written by Sherry Post (facebook).
All my active lifestyle friendz! Save some $ and save your body: In your ice bath try adding this:
Soothe Aches & Pains Away Bath Salts
1/2 cup baking soda
1/2 cup dry milk or coconut
1 cup Epsom salt
1 cup sea salt
Combine all ingredients together in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Use ½ Cup of mixture for each bath. Shake before each use.
If desired, you can customize your blend by adding two drops of any of the following essential oils or some dried herbs for every ½ cup of mixture. there is a perfect combination of additives you can place within the bath salts to get optimal results. (Look within the parenthesis for conditions and ailments each is purported to help.)
Basil (Soothing Muscles, Insect Bites)
Black Pepper (Deep Tissue Aches and Pain )
Chamomile (Anti-inflammatory, Numbing, Relaxation, Headaches, Stress, Depression, Stomach Upset, Insomnia, )
Cinnamon (Digestive Ailments, Menstrual Problems, Chills)
Citronella (Migraines, Headaches, Minor Infections)
Clary Sage (Antiseptic, Migraines, Cramps, Aches and Pains, Headaches, Insect Bites, Skin Infections)
Eucalyptus (Respiratory ailments, Aches and pains, Bronchitis, Sprains,
Geranium (PMS, Menopausal Symptoms, Anti-Inflammatory, Fungicidal, Athlete’s Foot)
Ginger (Digestion, Stomach Upset,
Jasmine (Depression, Laryngitis, Sprains)
Lavender (Anti-inflammatory, Numbing, Relaxation, Insomnia, Headaches, Stress, Bacterial Infection, Bruises, Insect Bites and Stings)
Lemon (Warts, Circulation, Brittle Nails, Colds, Flu, Varicose Veins)
Nutmeg (Digestive Problems, Kidney Problems, Nausea)
Patchouli (Antiseptic, Burns, Anti-Inflammatory, Acne, Athlete’s Foot)
Peppermint (Headaches, Stimulation, Muscle Fatigue, Acne, Dermatitis, Scabies)
Rose (Anti-inflammatory, Insomnia, Stress,
Depression, Bacterial Infection)
Rosemary (Stimulation, Respiratory, Mental Fatigue, Muscular Pain, Circulation, Eczema, Bronchitis, Fluid Retention)
Sage (Mental Fatigue)
Sandalwood (Nausea, Sore throat, Acne, Stress)
Sweet Orange (Anti-Inflammatory, Fever, Stress, Bronchitis)
Tea Tree (Anti-inflammatory, Bacterial Infection, Dandruff, Cold Sores, Athlete’s Feet, Warts, Wounds)
Valerian (Calming, Sleep Disturbances)
Wintergreen (Muscle and Joint Discomfort)
Pass The Salt?
Too much is bad for your health, too little hurts your running. How much do you need?
When you peel off a sweat-drenched shirt after a hard effort on a warm day, you know you need to rehydrate. The salty lines on your hat or shorts, however, paint a fuzzier picture. You may have a hankering for pretzels or potato chips, but if you’re like many runners, you pause in front of the pantry wondering if you should indulge the craving.
It’s hard not to feel conflicted about sodium. After all, too much salt is linked to high blood pressure. Even runners who avoid such salt bombs as packaged and fast foods still get all the NaCl they need without trying. The recommended daily allowance is just 2,300 milligrams (mg), and if you eat cereal for breakfast, a turkey sandwich for lunch, and a midday handful of pretzels, your sodium intake would be at 1,600 mg–before dinner.
On the other hand, if it’s hot or if you’re training hard, you can sweat out a lot of salt–as much as 3,000 mg in an hour. Losing that much sodium may be bad news since it is essential to hydration. “Sodium helps regulate the body’s fluid levels,” says Bob Seebohar, R.D., director of sports nutrition at the University of Florida. The loss of salt is also connected to other running problems, including cramping and hyponatremia, a rare and potentially fatal condition in which overhydration leads to low blood-sodium levels. So how much salt should runners ingest?
The answer depends on a variety of factors, including the weather and your physiology. A heavy sweater who has a high salt concentration could lose 1,300 mg of sodium during a 5-K, whereas a light sweater might only lose 155 mg, says Kris Osterberg, R.D., of the Gatorade Sports Science Institute in Barrington, Illinois, one of the few places in the world that measures salt loss. Elite athletes take a salt test to know how much sodium to replace. All the rest of us need to do is look at our skin. If you can play tic-tac-toe in the white residue, consume a salty snack or a sports drink with about 200 mg of sodium per serving after a workout. “Eating something salty after a run can help the body rehydrate better,” says Seebohar.
Some runners, however, including back-of-the-pack marathoners, ultradistance runners, and triathletes, shouldn’t wait until the finish line to take in sodium. “Anyone on a course five hours or longer should replenish sodium midrun, especially when heat and humidity are high,” says Seebohar. When sodium levels drop, so does your thirst, which leads to dehydration. At the same time, studies have shown that replenishing sodium midrun may help to delay hyponatremia. Several manufacturers have recently developed sports drinks with higher sodium levels. But if your race isn’t serving one that contains the recommended 200 mg per serving, snacking on potato chips at an aid station or carrying salt tablets is an easy solution. Additional sodium, however, will not necessarily prevent hyponatremia. To avoid overdrinking, learn your sweat rate (go to runnersworld.com/sweatrate) and hydrate accordingly.
Sodium also enables nerve impulses to fire, and a lack of it can trigger cramping. If you’re a salty sweater and prone to cramps, eating a salty snack before your run and ingesting salt midrun can help.
So if you find yourself staring into the pantry, go ahead and reach for the pretzels. “It’s important for runners to listen to cravings,” says Seebohar. “They’re our body’s way of saying it needs salt.” In fact, runners can exceed the 2,300 mg mark, especially on days when they’re sweating a lot. If you take in more than you need, even on nontraining days, your body will eliminate the extra salt. “Sodium isn’t a big concern for runners unless they know they are hypertensive or have a family history of high blood pressure,” Seebohar says. Reach for savory foods that have additional health benefits (see “Best Salty Snacks,” right). You’ll not only satisfy your taste buds, but you’ll also get a dose of other beneficial nutrients. Just go easy on the beer chaser.
Reach for these good-for-you foods to satisfy salt cravings and get an added nutritional punch. While you’re at it, switch to sea salt, says nutritionist Bob Seebohar. It has more micronutrients, including zinc and iron, than regular table salt.
Black olives (6 olives, 200 mg) are a good source of monounsaturated fat, iron, and vitamin E.
Whole-grain pretzels (2 oz., 116 mg) count as one of three whole-grain servings recommended per day.
V-8 juice (1 8-oz. can, 590 mg) is a bargain at two servings of vegetables for a mere 50 calories.
Cheese (1 oz., 175 mg) typically supplies 20 percent of the RDA for calcium.
Deli turkey (28 g, 270 mg) packs in about five grams of protein.
Chicken-noodle soup (1 cup, 460 mg), homemade, provides a well-balanced meal of protein and carbohydrates.
Salted almonds (1 oz., 96 mg) are high in monounsaturated fat and vitamin E.
Energy gels are a useful component of many endurance runners’ training and racing. In marathon distance racing, energy gels can make an important difference – When to eat Energy Gels in the Marathon.
1 Gel Ingredients
Here is an overview of the major ingredients in gels (see The Science of Energy Gels for more details).
- Maltodextrin is the most easily digested form of carbohydrate, 36% faster than glucose, making it ideal in a gel. More importantly, Maltodextrin requires far less water to be isotonic than glucose or fructose. Maltodextrin has little or no flavor, even at high concentrations.
- Glucose is easily digested, but requires 6 times as much water as Maltodextrin to be isotonic. Glucose is about three quarters as sweet as sugar (sucrose).
- Note that 97% of brown rice syrup is a mixture of maltose, which is 2 glucose molecules and maltotriose which is 3 glucose molecules. For practical purposes it can be considered the same as glucose, though possibly contaminated with arsenic.
- A little bit of Fructose is useful, as fructose is absorbed via different pathways, increasing the total carbohydrate absorption above what is possible with Maltodextrin alone. However, too much Fructose will cause digestive problems and fructose is absorbed at about a forth the rate of glucose. It also requires the same amount of water as glucose to be isotonic. Fructose is 1.7x as sweet as sugar (sucrose).
- Sugar is a cheap ingredient and is half glucose and half fructose.
- Fat can make a gel more palatable and is a useful fuel source at ultramarathon distances.
- Some protein can provide an additional fuel source and help limit the tendency of your body to cannibalize muscle for fuel.
- Amino acids may help performance, but the evidence is unclear at the levels provided in most gels.
- Caffeine is great for improving performance and speeding the absorption of carbohydrate, but too much can upset the stomach.
- Flavor is important, as you won’t want to take an unpalatable gel. Experiment with different flavors, as different people have different tastes.
This table is ordered by ease of digestion, which is a combination of the science of nutrition, personal experience and the experience of many runners I’ve talked to.
|Name||Calories||Carbs||Sugar4||Maltodextrin1||Glucose1||Fructose1||Other Carbs1||Protein||Fat||Sodium||Potassium||Caffeine||Water to
|Weight6||Carbs/g||Cal/g||Ease of digestion
(higher is better)
|Hammer Gel||90||23g||2g||21g||1g||1g||0g||Trace||0g||20mg||0mg||0mg/25mg/50mg||103ml||33g||0.70||2.73||10||Sensitive Stomachs|
|Gu Roctane||100||25g||5g||20g||0g||5g||0g||1.7g||0g||125mg||55mg||0mg/35mg||164ml||32g||0.63||3.13||8||Those looking for every advantage|
|Gu (Peanut Butter)||100||20g||5g||15g||0g||5g||0g||1g||1.5g||65mg||60mg||0mg||201ml||32g||0.78||3.13||7||A less sweet Gu|
|Vi Endurance||100||23g||6g||17g||6g||0g||0g||0g||1g||10mg||15mg||10mg||168ml||32g||0.72||3.13||7||Fructose malabsorption|
|Clif Shot (new formula)||100||24g||12g||12g||6g||6g||0g||0g||0g7||90mg||50mg||0mg/25mg/50mg/100mg||292ml||34g||0.71||2.94||6||A Gu Alternative|
|PowerBar Gel||110||27g||10g||17g||0g||10g||0g||0g||0g7||200mg||20mg||0mg/25mg/50mg||293ml||41g||0.66||2.68||5||Those needing extra electrolytes|
|Accel Gel||100||20g||13g||7g||4g||9g||0g||5g||0g||115mg||30mg||0mg/20mg||297ml||37g||0.54||2.70||4||Improved Recovery and Ultradistances|
|Honey Stinger||120||29g||29g||0g||14g||15g||0g||0g||0g||50mg||85mg||0mg/32mg||572ml||37g||0.78||3.24||2||Not Recommended|
|Chocolate #9||70||15g||13g||0g||3g||10g2||2g||1g||1g||75mg||Unknown||0mg||256ml||30g||0.50||2.33||2||Not Generally Recommended|
|2nd Surge||90||18g||13g||0g||7g3||6g3||5g3||3g||0g||115mg||15mg||100mg||274ml||30g||0.60||3.00||0||Not Recommended|
- 1 These values are estimates based on the stated nutrition and ingredients.
- 2Agave nectar varies in its fructose content between 90% and 55%, so this calculation assumes the average of about 75%.
- 3The unusual nature of the ingredients in 2nd surge makes it harder to estimate the types of carbohydrates included.
- 4The sugar value includes sucrose, fructose, glucose and other ‘sugars’.
- 5This is an approximation based on the amount of sugar, Maltodextrin, sodium and potassium, ignoring other ingredients. The water included in the gel is assumed to be the overall weight less the weight of the carbs, fat and protein. See The Science of Energy Gels for details on the isotonic calculations.
- 6This is the net weight of the gel; generally the packaging added 2-3g to the gels according to my scales.
- 7The chocolate flavor has 1.5g
- 8The chocolate flavor has 2g
1 Hammer Gel
Hammer Gel is noteworthy as one of the easiest to digest gels. It is nearly all Maltodextrin dissolved in a greater volume of fluid than other gels. The low level of sugars and electrolytes makes this far easier on the digestive system, and is recommended for runners who have issues with other types of gel. Note the low level of Fructose, which makes the maximum carbohydrate absorption lower than other gels. Therefore use Hammer only if Gu is difficult to digest.
Ingredients (Vanilla): Maltodextrin, Filtered Water, Energy Smart (Grape juice and Rice dextrins), Potassium Sorbate (as a preservative), Vanilla Extract, Citric Acid, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Amino Acids (L-Leucine, L-Alanine, L-Valine, L-Isoleucine).
For marathon distance racing, I prefer Gu over all other gels I’ve tried. It contains 5g of Fructose, with the rest of the calories coming from the easily digested Maltodextrin. I find that Gu can be consumed without any extra water as long as it is taken a bit at a time and mixed with saliva. Some of the flavors can be a little strong, but the ‘plain’ Gu has a light cola flavor.
Ingredients (Vanilla): Maltodextrin, water, fructose, Gu Amino acids (leucine, valine, histidine, isoleucine), potassium and sodium citrate, antioxidants (vitamin E and C),citric acid, calcium carbonate, vanilla, sea salt, preservatives (sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate), fumaric acid, herbal blend (chamomile, kola nut, ginger), pectin.
3 Gu (Peanut Butter)
The peanut butter flavored Gu is different enough to justify its own section. The peanut butter flavor is far less sweet than the regular Gu flavors, but if you like peanut butter it can be a lot more palatable. It also substitutes a little bit of fat and protein for the carbohydrate, as well as having a tiny bit more sodium and potassium. I find this flavor digests particularly well and I’d recommend trying get if you’re a fan of peanut butter. Obviously, if you hate peanut butter or you have a peanut allergy this is not going to work for you.
Ingredients: Maltodextrin, water, fructose, Peanut butter (peanuts, salt), Gu Amino acids (leucine, valine, histidine, isoleucine), potassium and sodium citrate, antioxidants (vitamin E and C), preservatives (sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate), calcium carbonate, sea salt, fumaric acid, calcium chloride, pectin, citric acid, malic acid, herbal blend (chamomile, ginger).
4 Gu Roctane
Roctane is a more expensive variant on Gu, though the price has reduced significantly since its introduction. The main difference is the addition of 1.7g of amino acids, which may help slightly. I’ve not noticed any difference when using it, but if you like Gu and are looking for even a slight advantage, it may be worthwhile. If you are paying hundreds of dollars for a race entry and travel, then the extra cost is minor. If you take 8 gels in a 4-hour marathon, Roctane only adds $4-5 to the cost of the race. Of course, you’ll need to practice with Roctane in your training, so you’ll have to factor that cost in as well.
Ingredients (Blueberry flavor): Maltodextrin, water, fructose, Roctane Amino acids (Histidine, Leucine, Valine, Isoleucine), Ornithine Alpha-ketoglutarate (OKG), sodium citrate, malic acid, citric acid, potassium citrate, natural pomegranate flavor, natural berry flavor, calcium carbonate, sea salt, caffeine, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate.
5 Vi Endurance
Vi Endurance has no fructose, so it’s ideal for those that suffer from fructose malabsorption. It has a little fat in the form of Medium Chain Triglycerides, as well as some Taurine, which I think are good things, but probably the amount is not significant enough to make much of a difference. There is a little caffeine, intended to increase the carbohydrate absorption rather than to improve performance. I found the Vi Endurance very easy on the stomach and a worthy alternative to Hammer Gel, though it’s only from the manufacturer and so it a little more pricy ($1.64 with shipping.)
Ingredients (Vanilla): Maltodextrin, water, dextrose, Vi Endurance Formula (MCT Oil, Taurine, Glucuronolactone, ornithine alpha-ketoglutarate (OKG), citrulline malate, magnesium aspartate, sodium citrate, potassium aspartate), pure vanilla flavor, potassium sorbate, sea salt, caffeine
6 Clif Shot (new formula)
The new formula Clif Shot uses Maltodextrin like other Gels and is similar to Gu. However, it has slightly more sugar making it a little more difficult to digest. One nice thing about Clif Shots is their ‘litter leash’, which is a thin strip that holds the top to the body of the packet so that you’re less lightly to drop the top. I found in practice that I often break the leash when opening the gels, but the idea is a noble one.
Ingredients (Vanilla): Organic Maltodextrin, Organic Sugar, Water, Natural Flavor, Sea Salt, Potassium Citrate.
7 PowerBar Gel
PowerBar Gel is noteworthy because of its higher sodium content that may help alleviate Hyponatremia and Cramps. I found the flavor stronger than Hammer, Gu or Cliff, but still quite pleasant. The level of fructose is higher than I’d like to see for digestibility. You may need to drink some water near the time you take PowerBar Gel due to the extra electrolytes.
Ingredients (vanilla): Carbohydrate blend (Maltodextrin, fructose), water, electrolytes (sodium chloride, sodium citrate, potassium chloride), natural flavor, citric acid, sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate.
8 Accel Gel
I like the 4:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio of Accel Gel, and I often use it in ultramarathon races. There is more sugar than I would like at 13g and the thin consistency makes it harder to eat slowly and mix with saliva.
Ingredients (Vanilla): Water, Fructose, Sucrose, Whey Protein Isolate and Hydrolysate, Maltodextrin, Glycerin, Natural Flavors, Salt, Ascorbic Acid, Vitamin E Acetate, Soy Lecithin.
9 Honey Stinger
Honey contains only simple sugars rather than the Maltodextrin that other Gels use. This makes Honey Stinger much harder to digest than other Gels, and much sweater. This is the one of the few Gels I’ve tried that has given me digestive problems when taken slowly. I also found the sweetness overpowering and unpleasant, though the honey aftertaste was quite nice. I would not recommend Honey Stinger Gels.
Ingredients (Gold flavor): Honey, Water, Potassium Citrate, Salt, Natural Flavors, Vitamins & Minerals, Niacinamide (Vit B3), Calcium Pantothenate (Vit B5), Pyridoxine, Hydrochloride (Vit B6), Riboflavin (Vit B2), Thiamine Mononitrate (Vit B1), Cyanocobalamin (Vit B12)
The only ingredients in this #9 are Agave and Cocoa, and Agave is predominantly fructose (55% fructose to 20% glucose). This amount of Fructose is slow to be absorbed and can be difficult to digest, making it a poor choice for most runners. The Agave makes this gel intensely sweet, which I did not like and the ‘processed with alkali‘ means that most of the antioxidants are destroyed. This gel may be suitable for runners that suffer from a blood sugar drop after taking more conventional gels prior to exercise (see The Science of Energy Gels for more details).
Ingredients: organic agave nectar, cocoa processed with alkali
11 2nd Surge
The ingredients in 2nd Surge are rather grim, with Agave providing Fructose and Brown Rice Syrup providing glucose (as disaccharides and trisaccharides). While this may sound better than simply using all sugar, it’s chemically not an improvement, especially as Brown Rice Syrup has a bitter aftertaste and unfortunately may contain arsenic. I found that 2nd surge was overly sweet, with a slightly bitter undertones and rather gritty in texture. 2nd Surge has a higher dose of Caffeine than most gels. It’s unlikely that you’d want to take a 2nd surge every 30 minutes, but if you did, you’d have 800mg of Caffeine during a four hour marathon, which is rather high. (For a 150 pound/75Kg person, that would be nearly 11mg/Kg, far more than seems prudent.) The ratio of carbohydrate to protein can have some benefits, but it’s a 6:1 ratio, rather than 4:1 which the manufacturer claims is ideal in their Accel Gel. Overall, there seems nothing to recommend these gels.
Ingredients (chocolate flavor): Agave syrup, brown rice syrup, evaporated cane sugar, water, whey protein isolate, glycerin, pea protein isolate, cocoa, natural flavors, green tea extract, d-alpha-tocopheryl, salt, grape, pomegranate, mangosteen, goji berry, blueberry, chokeberry, cranberry, apple and bilberry extracts.
12 Vespa Gel
Vespa Gels claims to improve endurance performance by improving fat burning rather than providing fuel like other gels. The science does not seem to back this up, and they are remarkably expensive ($6.75 each).
A lot of my assassins who are at the early stages of menopause have been inquiring about Get Tough and it’s benefits to menopause. After a few research and just asking around as well as doing silent observations with my clients. I believe that GT works wonders with a lot of my clients going through menopause. It’s not easy dealing with it especially the way it controls your hormones. But due to the benefits of training it actually helps doing training during this hard time. The release of endorphins mixed with muscle building it actually helps my lady assassins kill more WODs. So when you feel off and feeling alone remember all you need is 30-45 minutes in the box.
It usually starts when a woman enters her mid-30s. Muscles begin to fade. A quarter to a third of a pound of muscle is lost per year — every year.
“Women become disabled. We get osteoporosis, diabetes, and obesity largely because we’re losing this muscle,” Miriam Nelson, an associate professor of nutrition at Tufts University, told ABCNEWS’ John McKenzie.
But recent research assures women that they need not give in to aging. Pumping iron is now a proven prescription.
A recent study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that post-menopausal women can reduce their body fat, increase muscle mass, build up their bones, and improve their balance by lifting moderately heavy weights on a regular basis.
“Biologically, these women were about 20 years younger then they were at the start of the year,” says Nelson, expert and lead author of the study.
Experts say the benefits of weight training are now indisputable, to both prevent the effects of aging in pre-menopausal women and reverse the effects of aging in post-menopausal women.
To find out how women can get the most out of weight-training sessions, ABCNEWS.com asked three exercise experts — Johanna Hoffman, an exercise physiologist at the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center in Lutherville, Md.; Dr. Edward Laskowski, co-director of the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center in Rochester, Minn., and a specialist in physical medicine and rehabilitation; and Dr. Paul D. Thompson, director of preventive cardiology at Hartford Hospital in Hartford, Conn. — their top training tips. Here are their top 12 tips:
1) Set a Goal. Decide what you want to get out of your workout. Are you after Jennifer Aniston’s arms or a job with World Wrestling Entertainment? Are you lifting weights to improve function, health, appearance, or sports performance? Once this has been determined, you can better tailor your routine, choosing exercises that will target the proper muscles.
2) Be Consistent. Once you commit to weight training, stick with it. True, a long day at work doesn’t provide much inspiration, but resist the urge to skip sessions. “If you can’t do a lot, do a little,” recommends Thompson. “Something is better than nothing.”
3) Learn Proper Form and Technique. “Exercise is like medicine,” says Laskowski, “it’s based on science.” If you have no experience with weights, experts recommend investing in a couple of sessions with a personal trainer. One thing to keep in mind is to avoid hyper-extending or locking out any joints. This allows the muscle to relax, which is counterproductive. Also, be sure that your whole body is properly aligned in order to protect the lower back.
4) Get Tired. While many theories exist on the best ways to build muscle, recent research indicates that a single set of 12 repetitions with the proper weight can build muscle just as efficiently as three sets of the same exercise — good news for people trying to squeeze weight lifting into a busy schedule. Laskowski recommends a single set of exercises using a weight heavy enough to tire the muscles after a dozen repetitions. “When you work a muscle to fatigue, you are releasing factors that build endurance and strength,” adds Hoffman.
5) Muscles Are Sexy. Many women avoid weight lifting because they are afraid of looking too buff and muscular, opting instead for the treadmill or the elliptical machine to burn calories. In truth, weight training converts fat into lean muscle. Lean muscle burns more calories, aiding in weight loss. “It’s like having a V-8 engine instead of a 4-cylinder. You have a bigger engine to burn more calories because it takes calories to keep that engine running,” explains Laskowski.
6) Vary Your Exercises.”You can fall in love with your trainer but don’t fall in love with any one exercise,” says Thompson. If you repeat the same exercise, you will overdo a particular muscle group. Everyone undoubtedly has a particular asset they may want to develop, but don’t overdo it. Use a full variety of exercises, machines and resistances. Try lifting free weights, water, household items, and even your own body weight. Changing it up will shock the muscles, challenging them to lift the weight.
7) Move Slowly. Don’t cheat by racing through your exercises. Remember, it only takes one set so be sure to get the most out of your time in the gym. Take one to two seconds to contract the muscle, hold the contraction for half a second, and then lengthen the release to three or four seconds. You are 20 percent to 40 percent stronger on the way down so following this time breakdown will maximize strength gain.
8) Work Balanced Muscles Groups. People generally work out only what they can see, says Laskowski, “it’s as if they have a ‘Cadillac in the front, and a Volkswagen in the back.'” But too much time devoted to one side may create posture problems. Since, every muscle has an opposing muscle, be sure to work the entire pair. For example, follow stomach crunches with back extensions and bicep curls with tricep kickbacks.
9) Find Female-Focused Exercises. Women should pay particular attention to building strength in the upper back and shoulders. This will protect against poor posture later in life, a common problem related to osteoporosis. And don’t neglect your lower body — females are five to six times more likely to suffer a knee ligament tear. To protect against knee injury, focus on building the hamstring muscles.
10) Choose a Get-Buff Buddy. A lifting partner is helpful not only for spotting but for motivation as well. When your arms are feeling like Jell-O and you think you’ve got nothing left to give, a little encouragement from a friend may be all you need to push out that final rep.
11) Drink Caffeine Before Lifting. Although optional, a little caffeine may give you an extra boost of energy to lift after a long day. You may be surprised by the effects a cup of coffee or can of soda can have on your performance.
12) Be Patient. “Rome wasn’t built in a day; you won’t be either,” says Thompson. It takes time to incorporate the benefits of weight lifting. Changes in muscle fiber won’t show until four to six weeks, but in the meantime, your muscles are learning how to act more efficiently.
So when you tell me next time “that weight is too heavy” just remember what you are really telling me? Or when you tell me “I do not want to lift that, I don’t want to look like a man!” – Lifting does not make you look big or hurt you if you follow proper technique. You know what makes you look big? FAT over lean muscle. So on that note I say, SUCK IT UP BUTTERCUP! It’s good for you. I will not let you do anything that will hurt you. WHAT’S YOUR EXCUSE?
What’s after all my W/U? Correct – the full SQ. Why? What do I always tell you guys? Open up the hips. It’s such a strong underrated muscle and it’s the connection between your upper and lowers. So why not strengthen it to better transfer POWER throughout your body. The video below explains more about my theory. It’s a fact and a lot of fitness coaches have been teaching it but the general public or bodybuilders pay no mind. That’s why they are so stiff. We strive to be functional and without this powerful muscle you can’t claim to be this.
What does it mean to generate power with the hip? What is a “closed” hip versus an “open” hip and how does this apply to sports? In this video we go over the basics of what open versus closed means and where it shows up in a variety of other activities. Understanding this concept and thinking about it while you’re training can help you keep better form and generate more power.
GT which is a functional training system has a lot in common with CrossFit. It takes training to a whole new level and it’s clients to a more goal-oriented approach. The community that I am building are mentally tougher and physically fit. No more excuses only changes. The level of dedication has been totally inspiring. We aspire to be our personal great and inspire others to no longer ask “WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE” but instead define it by pushing things to the limit. Living in the uncomfortable and embracing the SUCK. Below was an article about how a lot of athletes or triathletes to be precise use CrossFit as their main training system. I don’t train you to be good at specific sports but to be FIT. I don’t make you lose weight – I melt fat, insecurity, and doubt from you. I don’t make my clients skinny – but fit, mentally tough, and confident.
Plain and simple I want people to embrace the change. I offer you knowledge and a wealth of it. I not only show you what you can become but what you should not be. I bring results to a whole new level of awareness and I will not stop. Only it takes is belief in oneself and an open mind. And the key is project #evolve – a new definition for living inspiring fighting and triumph to overcome fear, insecurity, and self-doubt. It was not an accident you took the Buck Challenge it was part of your evolution. Are you ready to drop BOOMSAUCE?
CrossFit (CF) has become incredibly popular over the past few years. It has gained attention worldwide among both the fitness-loving masses and performance-minded endurance athletes.
Many triathletes, however, are skeptical of the program given CrossFit’s “hardcore” reputation, and have thus far chosen to pass on CrossFit in favor of more conservative strength training approaches. However, with more and more endurance athletes regularly using CrossFit these days, CrossFit’s reputation is changing for the better.
DUSTIN (top 800 in the world tennis player) – GT ASSASSIN!
In my previous article, I outlined five ways in which an intelligent CrossFit program can benefit triathletes. CrossFit teaches proper body mechanics; it identifies athletic weakness and imbalance and provides tools to address them; it builds greater strength, power, agility and speed; it develops and builds true functional strength; and finally it develops skills that transfer to specific endurance sports.
In other words, CrossFit can expose the causes of overuse injuries and minimize them. And it can help improve athletic performance overall. This follow up article provides practical advice on how to effectively incorporate a CrossFit program into your regular swim, bike and run schedule. Follow these five steps to blend CrossFit into your routine for the chance to enjoy fewer injuries and greater racing success this season.
1) Do your research.
CrossFit gyms seem to be popping up on all street corners these days. Choose one that has a history, a good reputation in your community and a thorough basics or “on ramp” program.
Ideally you want a gym (or “box” in CF parlance) that has experienced coaches who work with endurance athletes or who are endurance athletes themselves. For example, San Francisco CrossFit has a well-trained and experienced endurance staff, and endurance athlete-specific CrossFit classes.
2) Be responsible for your own limiters and weakness.
Many athletes come to CrossFit with one pre-existing condition or another. Own your injury by letting your coach know before the workout. The instructor can keep an extra eye on you and offer specific suggestions to get you back to health more quickly and/or to prevent a frustrating re-injury. That’s a win-win.
3) Prioritize mobility, lifting mechanics, strength, power and metabolic conditioning in that order.
The deeper you get into your own specific and demanding workouts (track, tempo, hills, long rides/runs) and the competitive season, the less you are able to handle everything that CrossFit can throw at you. That’s ok. When push comes to shove, you should focus on the basics: mobility, good movement mechanics and strength.
If you are new and/or are fatigued from your endurance training, you can conservatively avoid the high intensity (and riskier) power and metabolic conditioning workouts.
4) Prioritize your sport.
CrossFit is becoming a competitive sport with its own sponsors, competitions and professional athletes. Similar to professional triathletes, these CrossFit athletes demonstrate incredible ability and work capacity through a combination of talent and hard work. It can be easy to get sucked into their competitions, forgetting your own racing season and your own purpose for being there. Remember, you are an endurance athletes using CrossFit for your own competitive ends. You should purposely avoid racing in CrossFit so it doesn’t detract from your primary endurance goals.
5) Be patient and keep a long view.
CrossFit will expose you to a whole new and exciting world of technical Olympic lifting, power lifting and gymnastic movement. Be patient with yourself and enjoy being a “newbie” athlete all over again. The majority of injuries that occur in CF are when athletes rush too soon into workouts with too much intensity.
A good CrossFit coach will slow you down and emphasize technique, consistency in movement and intensity, in that order. Remember, (similar to endurance sports) it takes years to sufficiently develop the motor control, positional strength and capacity to run with the top athletes and at your full potential.
CrossFit can bring an enormous added valued to your endurance program and provide a new athletic spark for the season. To safely incorporate CrossFit into your endurance training: do your research, take responsibility for your own limitations, prioritize mobility and movement mechanics over everything else, prioritize your sport, and finally be patient with your progress. If you follow these steps you will have the ultimate success: fewer injuries and greater performances in this upcoming season and in seasons to come. Train well.
So I train 6 days a week. I eat somewhat clean, why am I not seeing definition? Any of my GT assassins would tell you what I usually ask – how’s your eating? how’s your sleeping? Are you stressed? It’s true all these play a role. Even during GT sessions overtraining plays a role in not seeing any definition. Recently I had to tell a client to take a day off or two for a break. Anyway, I wanted to address this phenomenon and truly break it down. However, I remembered an article I read and thought why reinvent the wheel. Just use my resources. So here is that quick read. Enjoy! Learn! Adapt! #evolve…
6 Ways You’re Stopping Yourself From Building Muscle
1. Improper Form
Before beginning any weight training program, it is very important to understand the significance of proper technique over weight. Your objective is to perform each exercise properly with the appropriate weight for your training level and engage as many muscle fibers as possible. This can only be accomplished with proper weight lifting technique. By using improper form, you are less likely to engage every muscle fiber in a given body part, resulting in slower, less effective muscle growth. Secondly, you are far more likely to injure yourself. Improper technique is one of the most common causes of weight training injuries. So, if you notice yourself using improper lifting technique as you increase weight, decrease the weight and maintain proper form.
Exercise and weight training cause injury to skeletal muscle fibers, which release various signaling molecules to orchestrate the cellular response to muscle injury. While this response is necessary for muscular development, it can lead to overtraining syndrome if insufficient recovery time is given to the body. Excessive inflammation from overtraining can result in muscle fatigue, loss in muscle protein, loss of muscle mass, and reduced muscle function.1 It can also induce a ‘whole-body response’, in which the brain induces sickness, vegetative, or recuperative behaviors, leading to mood and behavior changes that allow the body to get rid of the excess inflammatory factors.2 Some of these behaviors include sickness, disinterest in exercise, reduced libido, arthritis, or a common cold.2 So, give yourself at least 1-2 days of rest within a 7 day period to avoid overtraining syndrome.
3. Lack of Sleep
A review article by Mullington et al. provides a detailed overview of the negative effects of sleep deprivation.3 Growth hormone (GH) commonly reaches its daily maximum during the first half of the normal sleep period. However, sleep deprived individuals experience a smaller pulse of GH levels during sleep. Sleep deprivation also decreases glucose metabolism, which can contribute to insulin resistance, accumulation of fat stores, and inflammation throughout the body. Interestingly, sleep deprived individuals have reduced concentrations of leptin, the hormone that signals satiety to the brain. They also have increased concentrations of ghrelin, the hormone that signals hunger to the brain. The combination of lower GH levels, decreased glucose metabolism, reduced leptin levels, and increased ghrelin levels can be catastrophic to your weight training and fitness goals. In order to avoid these effects, give yourself at least 8 hours of sleep per night.
4. No Vegetables
When changing your diet to promote lean muscle growth, simply increasing your protein intake is not enough. Some fitness enthusiasts often neglect the importance of vegetables in their diets. Although higher protein and complex carbohydrate intake is important, vegetables also provide essential minerals and nutrients that promote fat loss, muscle recovery, and muscle growth. Spinach and broccoli are great sources of folic acid, which repairs DNA and helps to produce new red blood cells.4 Brussels sprouts and broccoli are great sources of Vitamin C, which supports the immune system and protects the body from oxidative stress.5 Broccoli is a good source of zinc, which plays a role in immune function, protein synthesis, wound healing.6 Spinach is a great source of magnesium, which helps to maintain normal muscle and nerve function and supports the immune system. Vegetables in the Brassica family, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage, are also great sources of fiber.
Although many of these nutrients can be consumed in supplement form, they are utilized more efficiently when they are consumed from whole foods. Other nutrient dense vegetables include, but are not limited to, asparagus, cauliflower, and kale. Interestingly, cabbage is also a source of glutamine, which supports muscle recovery and regulation of the immune system.
5. Alcohol Consumption
Although some fitness enthusiasts drink alcoholic beverages regularly, alcohol intake can be detrimental to your fitness goals. Alcohol, or dietary ethanol, has a high energy density, which can contribute to excess caloric intake. Secondly, alcohol intake causes essential vitamins and minerals to be displaced from its normal function in the body. For example, alcohol metabolism requires increased use of vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, and B6.7 This nutrient displacement has the potential to decrease certain B vitamin functions, such as fatty acid metabolism, amino acid metabolism, and the ability to generate glucose from non-carbohydrate sources. Alcohol intake also can cause chemical damage to the mucosal lining in the gastrointestinal tract, resulting in the malabsorption of nutrients.8
A byproduct of alcohol metabolism is the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), or oxidative stress. When combined with physical exercise, alcohol consumption and metabolism places greater amounts of stress on the body and increases the antioxidant demand. Antioxidants normally used for muscle recovery must then be displaced and used for alcohol metabolism, resulting in reduced muscle recovery. While studies do suggest that light consumption of alcoholic beverages, specifically red wine, can reduce the risk of certain cardiovascular disorders, excessive drinking can significantly inhibit your muscle recovery and fat loss.9
6. Not Enough Calories
Under-eating is one of the biggest causes of problems in failed diet plans. While you are able to lose weight with extreme caloric deficits, the losses will come from both muscle and fat. In order to lose fat and gain muscle, you must first know your basal metabolic rate (BMR), or the amount of calories your body will burn with no activity. Next, adjust this value according to your level of physical activity and fitness goals. Even though daily caloric intake is important, the quality of the food is more important. Therefore, your caloric intake should come from foods that contribute to muscle growth and fat loss, such as lean protein, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, fruits, and vegetables.
By avoiding these mistakes, you are more likely to facilitate muscle growth, muscle recovery, and fat loss in a shorter period of time. However, these are not the only mistakes that exist! So, continue to do your research. Diligently seek new training and dietary strategies for maximizing YOUR potential, not someone else’s!
Nutrition: How antioxidants can help your training
Monday, Mar 21, 2011 4.00pm
Antioxidants seem to be everywhere these days. They’re the ‘in’ thing in nutrition and if you believe the hype they can cure every disease, help you go faster and even live forever. Let’s take a look at the science behind the hype and see if there’s any evidence that as a cyclist you should be including these in your diet.
Antioxidants act by counteracting something called oxidative stress, which causes damage to the body. During day-to-day living your body produces things called reactive oxygen species that attack the body. Think of it as oxygen on a rampage around your body. You naturally produce antioxidants to protect your body from this attack, so think of this as your body’s police force. However, you need to get extra antioxidants from your diet to support this police force – think of these as the riot police.
There’s a huge body of research looking into the effect of antioxidant intake on health. With the advent of processed food a lot of the antioxidant capacity of our foods has been removed. It’s quite clear from the research that antioxidants can help prevent diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer and help you live a long life.
The health benefits of a diet high in antioxidants is clear, but the performance benefits are less so. We know that exercise, particularly hard training, increases oxidative stress, but we also know that the body responds to this by increasing the size of its police force. However, when you train hard, the body can’t increase its natural antioxidants enough, so you need to make sure the riot police are ready to go.
A recent study from the University of Newcastle in Australia looked at restricting fruit and vegetable intake on exercise performance and how the body responded to the training. Fruit and vegetables are probably the most important source of antioxidants in the body. The study showed decreasing your weekly fruit and veg intake from five a day to one a day caused performance to be impaired by two percent and the stress of the exercise was greatly increased. So there is a performance benefit to a diet high in antioxidants.
As we’ve seen, fruit and vegetables are the most common food source of antioxidants. They contain nutrients such as vitamin C and E as well as other antioxidant compounds. Nuts and seeds as well as wholegrains (as opposed to refined grains like white bread and pasta) also contain high amounts of antioxidants.
There are also many supplements on the market that may help improve your antioxidant capacity, although these aren’t proven by science. The antioxidant system is very complicated and food is always going to be more effective, as nutrients work in interaction. A good example is a recent study showing high doses of vitamin C actually inhibited the adaptation from training.
What to eat
So how can you increase your antioxidant capacity? Sources of antioxidants can be found in all kinds of common foods, so make sure you get enough:
You know these foods are good for you, so make sure you:
- Eat five portions of fruit per day
- Eat five portions of veg per day
- Steam your vegetables rather than boil them
You might try to avoid these, but in moderation they help provide powerful antioxidants:
- Red wine: a glass a day is plenty
- Dark chocolate: stick to two or three small squares a day
You might think these things wouldn’t make much difference, but they do:
- Add herbs to your food
- Add extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar to meals
- Look for foods which are dark in colour such as berries
Article from: http://www.inspiredfitstrong.com/
A couple weeks ago I was in the gym, when a woman came to the squat rack. The bar was loaded with 80kg. so I decided to offer her help to load off the bar. I supposed that no matter how strong she was, she still needed to warm up. She just threw me a glance and said “ No, move away, you might injure yourself!” I was shocked ! I just walked back but I still waited to see what was gonna happen. The woman added more weight to the bar…up to 120kg. She went under the bar and I was sure what followed after that. As I expected she started just half squatting…it even looked more like sticking her butt back a little…and she never really squatted!
In that gym there is another woman that claims she can squat with 110kg but she is still doing the same thing as the woman mentioned above. I’ve said it before that weight should always be your second thought and you shouldn’t compromise with your technique but today I intend on digging a little deeper and explain you why just sticking your butt back, half sticking it or half squatting SHOULDN”T be part of your workout!
First of all, let’s get straight what a full squat looks like( the one you are supposed to do every time). Full squat is when you push your hips back and down to a level, where the front side of your hips will be just below the line of the upper part of your patella( in other words knee cap). That will place you in a position where you will be below parallel and your hips will be parallel to the ground. A lot of people get fooled that below parallel is equal to your thighs being parallel to the ground, which is wrong! Now when we know what a full squat is, let’s say what a half squat looks like…it is really simple- everything that does not correspond with the rules of a full squat is a half squat!
In order to understand how half squats are harming you, you should know which muscles get activated depending on the way you complete the movement and what are the consequences!
The first phase of the squat is characterized by the anterior chain dominance. In other words these are the muscles on the front of your thigh, between the hips and the knee(the quadriceps). In this case the anterior chain does all the work. If you follow with your hand the distance between the front side of your hips , down to the knee, this will be your quadriceps tendon. A little further down this “route” is the tendon of your patella(knee kap). When you get to the “sticking” bone on the side of your knee, you will be to the point where that tendon attaches to your shin(also called tibia).
When you do half squats the anterior chain is under tension. The tendon of your patella, pulls the tibia, which is followed by a slide forward, which results in a grind against your thigh’s bone(femur). The consequence is the uneven load on the bones of your knee. The result could be a bad injury!
I guess that because most people are doing half squats instead of full squats, the squat received the bad fame of being a dangerous movement!
What happens if we make the effort to learn the right technique of the full squat and start squatting deeper? In this case, you will activate not only your anterior chain but also the posterior chain( the muscles on the back of your upper leg). Now you are loading the front group muscles, together with the back group of muscles and the load is even!
The hamstrings have the opposite effect of the quadriceps and oppose to the shear force of the anterior chain. Thus, occurs a balance between the force produced by the anterior and the posterior chain.
Besides that, as I mentioned at the beginning in my story about the lady and her 120kg squat, when you do half squats you can use a lot bigger weights. This leads to a bigger stress on your spine, because this is a weight that you couldn’t use to do full squats. And if you need to remember just one thing, it would be that if you can’t do full squats with it, you have no business carrying it on your back!
So let’s repeat:
1.When you do half squats, the work is predominantly done by the anterior chain and this leads to uneven loading on your knees.
2.When you do full squats, you activate both the anterior and the posterior chain and you get a balance between both groups of muscles!
3. If you can’t do full squats with it, you have no business carrying it on your back!
So how do you squat?
I been sore a lot lately and realized that my body needed two things – 1) an SMR (self myofascial release) session after my WODs 2) Better foods that can help with the inflammation. I know potassium should be high but guess what it was not working. I know omega-3 helps so I started eating a lot of fish and slowly it got better. While doing research I found this awesome article by Mark Sisson. It list the 6 top foods he believes are great foods to help alleviate the soreness and muscle inflammation post-workout. It does not hurt to try. So read, learn, and evolve!
Before I begin, let me preface this post with the identification of a simple confounder for everyone to consider as they read: context. Any discussion of a concept as nebulous, multifaceted, and confusing as inflammation must integrate the question of context. Inflammation itself is highly contextual – as I’ve discussed in previous installments, there are times when inflammation is a good thing and times when inflammation is a negative thing. There are also times when anti-inflammatory actions, drugs, or foods are negatives, even though “anti-inflammatory” has a positive connotation. If you blunt the post-exercise inflammatory response with an anti-inflammatory drug, for example, you also run the risk of blunting the positive effects of that workout.
We must also pay attention to acute and systemic inflammation when discussing the desirability of an “anti-inflammatory” food. Eating a big meal tends to raise inflammatory markers in the short term. If you’re overeating every single meal, this is problematic; the acute will become the norm – the chronic. If you’re eating big after a massive workout session, or because you’re celebrating at an amazing restaurant with your dearest friends, or because you’re coming off a twenty-four hour IF, it’s fine. Context.
Eating high glycemic foods, namely refined carbohydrates that digest quickly and represent a big, instantly-available caloric load, tends to raise inflammatory markers in the short term. Again, if you’re pounding bags of chips or white bread while sitting on the couch and the only walking you’ve done all day is to the pantry, those high glycemic foods will be inflammatory (to say nothing of the antinutrients in the bread or the rancid vegetable oil in the chips). And if you do the same thing on a regular basis, they will induce systemic inflammation – or at least continuous acute spikes that mimic systemic inflammation. If you’re eating a fast-digesting, high-glycemic white potato after your glycogen-depleting sprintworkout, you will refill your insulin-sensitive muscles and the subsequent inflammatory spike will be either nonexistent or nothing to worry about. Competitive athletes probably thrive on high glycemic foods, couch potatoes develop metabolic syndrome eating the same things. Context.
Many people find dairy to be inflammatory. I’m (sort of) one of them. I’ll readily eat butter, put cream in coffee, slice quality cheeses, and have a cup of Greek yogurt, but a tall glass of store-bought milk doesn’t sit well with me. I don’t have to run to the toilet or anything; I just don’t feel as good as I did before the glass of milk. Is milk, then, “inflammatory”? It could be, for me (though perhaps a glass of raw A2 cow, goat or sheep milk would have a different effect). It may not be for you. Dairy certainly wasn’t inflammatory for this group of adult men with metabolic syndrome, nor for this group of pregnant women. For both groups, the inclusion of dairy had an anti-inflammatory effect. That doesn’t mean dairy is inherently anti-inflammatory; it might just mean that dairy was better than whatever it replaced. Context.
So when I begin to rattle off my list of anti-inflammatory foods, keep these confounders in mind. Realize that what’s good for the chronically-inflamed, vegetable oil-guzzling goose may not be as crucial for the sprightly, sardine-slurping gander. If you’ve got a casein allergy, even the Maasai-iest dairy will be inflammatory. But what follows is a list (plus scientific references where applicable) of foods I’ve personally found to be anti-inflammatory. Since I don’t carry around a CRP-ometer, I’ve tried to include references if available.
Wild Fish Fat
Whether you get it through molecularly-distilled oil, deep-red wild sockeye, raw oysters, or by exclusively eating pastured animal products, omega-3s are required for a healthy inflammatory response. I feel off when I haven’t eaten any fish for a week or so, but eating salmon more than three days in a row doesn’t really work, either, because too much omega-3 is similarly problematic (shoot for between a 3:1 and 1:1 ratio of omega-6:omega-3). I can tell I’ve gone too long without fish fat when my arthritis starts to sneak up on me. The advice for reducing omega-6 across the board holds steady, of course, but everyone needs some form of fish fat. Another bonus is that it usually comes with healthy fish flesh, skin, bones, and sea minerals.
Omega-3 status is inversely associated with CRP in men. The higher the omega-3, the lower the systemic inflammation.
Daily fish oil for six months reduced inflammation in patients with metabolic syndrome and especially those with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Delivering a “fish-fat” emulsion intravenously to patients with systemic inflammatory response syndrome had anti-inflammatory and liver-protective effects.
Pastured Animal Fat
I was going to list grass-fed dairy, grass-fed beef/lamb, and pastured egg yolks as separate categories, but reconsidered. As I mentioned in my post on human interference factor, the unperturbed animals raised in relative harmony with their ancestry make the best, healthiest, least inflammatory food, while stressed-out animals raised in evolutionarily-novel conditions and on evolutionarily-novel feed make unhealthier and more inflammatory food. The important factor is that your animal fat comes from pastured animals who ate grass, that the chickens who laid your eggs ate grass and bugs and grains/seeds lower in omega-6. Pastured ruminant and dairy fat contains more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) (PDF), an anti-inflammatory trans fatty acid, and pastured eggs contain more micronutrients and more omega-3 fats.
In one study, people with the highest levels of dairy-derived CLA in their tissues had the fewest heart attacks.
Eggs from chickens on a high-omega-6 diet were higher in omega-6, and they increased oxidized LDL in people who ate them.
Read this post to learn why getting CLA from dairy and animal fat is better than getting it from supplements.
Red Palm Oil
After treating red palm oil as more of an intellectual curiosity than a culinary tool for years, it has really grown on me. Lately, I’ve been tossing cubed, steamed butternut squash with red palm oil, sea salt, black pepper, cayenne, and turmeric. It’s an interesting taste, but it definitely works (and it’s a good dish for vegetarians, too). Roasting veggies in it is good as well, as is a spoonful on top of those white Japanese sweet potatoes (the starchier, not-so-sweet ones). Enough about taste, though – red palm oil is incredibly dense with antioxidants. Full spectrum vitamin E, CoQ10, vitamin A, and vitamin K, all incredibly important in maintaining antioxidant status, all make appearances.
When compared to the treasured monounsaturated fat, palm oil (high in saturated fat) greatly reduced oxidized LDL in humans. And that was refined palm oil. I suspect unrefined red palm oil, with all nutrients intact, would perform even better.
Pretty much every list of “Top 10 Anti-Inflammatory Foods” contains broccoli or cauliflower or kale or cabbage, but I thought I’d one-up those writers and include them all. I probably eat cruciferous vegetables five, sometimes seven times a week, mostly because they taste good but also because they contain helpful compounds like sulforaphane.
Broccoli lowered colonic inflammation in mice.
Red cabbage reduced oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation.
Sulforaphane reduced inflammation in arteries.
Although blueberries top most anti-inflammatory food lists (I’ve even seen Kaiser Permanente ads on the sides of buses that feature massive photos of glistening blueberries), and for good reason, I think the other berries get left out. Let’s face it, though – there isn’t really a bad berry out there. I don’t put a lot of faith in the superfruit phenomenon (though I’m sure goji berries are perfectly healthy), but berries are just solid guys to have in your diet. They’re delicious. They’re low in sugar. They’re high in surface area, which means lots of skin and all the antioxidants and phenolics that come with it (but go organic for that same reason). They’re colorful, which means lots of bioactive pigments.
Preliminary evidence suggests that blueberries, strawberries, and cranberries can ameliorate metabolic syndrome through modulation of inflammation.
If you haven’t developed a taste for turmeric, I suggest you get on it. It is a potent anti-inflammatory spice, which protects against oxidation of dietary fats during cooking and against oxidative stress in the body after being eaten. You could go straight for the powerful stuff and simply take curcumin, the most active component of turmeric, but I’d suggest using the whole spice itself. That’s how it’s been used for thousands of years, and you’d miss out on the incredible flavor and color it provides otherwise. Somehow I doubt crumbling up curcumin pills would have the same culinary effect.
Turmeric beat both ginger and an anti-inflammatory drug for treating arthritis (I’ve had similar results).
Turmeric also upregulates LDL receptor activity. If you remember from past posts on inflammation, poor LDL receptor activity can leave LDL particles open and vulnerable to oxidation from inflammatory processes.
In the comments section of last week’s post on inflammation, many of you expressed a desire for a post explaining how to know if one is actually suffering from systemic, chronic inflammation. I thought that was a great idea and decided to put the other followups on hold so I could tackle this one. Obviously, it’s easy to tell if you’ve got some acute inflammation going on – swelling, pain, heat radiating from a part of your body that’s suddenly assumed a rosy hue, and throbbing open wounds are all blatant indicators of the inflammatory process at work – but tests for markers of inflammation are not yet standard across most medical practices. With that in mind, I’ll be giving info on both objective markers for which you can test, as well as on the subjective markers I use on myself that you can “test” and use to evaluate your own level of inflammation.
Let’s get to it.
CRP, or C-Reactive Protein
CRP is a protein that binds with phosphocholine on dead and dying cells and bacteria in order to clear them from the body. It can always be found (and measured) in the bloodstream, but levels spike when inflammation is at hand. During acute inflammation caused by infection, for example, CRP can spike by up to 50,000-fold. CRP spikes due to acute inflammation peak at around 48 hours and decline pretty quickly thereafter (post acute-phase inflammation CRP has a half life of 18 hours). Thus, if the incident causing the inflammation is resolved, CRP goes back to normal within a few days. If it persists, the infection/trauma/etc. probably persists as well.
CRP elevates in response to essentially anything that causes inflammation. It’s highly sensitive to many different kinds of stressors. This makes it valuable for determining that inflammation is occurring, but it makes it difficult to determine why that inflammation is occurring – because it could be almost anything. But if you’re looking for confirmation that you are chronically, systemically inflamed, an elevated CRP in absence of any acute infections, injuries, burns, or stressors is a useful barometer.
“Normal” CRP levels are supposedly 10 mg/L. Absent infection or acute stressors, however, ideal CRP levels are well under 1 mg/L. You want to stay well below 1; you don’t want “normal.” Between 10-40 mg/L (and perhaps even 1-9 mg/L, too) indicates systemic inflammation (or pregnancy), while anything above that is associated with real acute stuff. Note that exercise can elevate CRP.
IL-6, or Interleukin-6
T cells (type of white blood cell that plays a huge role in the immune response) and macrophages (cells that engulf and digest – also known as phagocytosing – stray tissue and pathogens) both secrete IL-6 as part of the inflammatory response, so elevated IL-6 can indicate systemic inflammation.
Tissue Omega-3 Content
This is a direct measurement of the omega-3 content of your bodily tissue. It’s not widely available, but it is very useful. Remember that anti-inflammatory eicosanoids draw upon the omega-3 fats in your tissues and that inflammatory eicosanoids draw upon the omega-6 fats. People having a higher proportion of omega-6 fats will thus produce more inflammatory eicosanoids. Now, we absolutely need both inflammatory and anti-inflammatory eicosanoids for proper inflammatory responses, but people with high omega-6 tissue levels make way too many inflammatory eicosanoids. Studies indicate that people with the highest omega-3 tissue levels suffer fewer inflammatory diseases (like coronary heart disease).
Research (highlighted and explicated here by Chris Kresser) suggests that omega-3 tissue concentrations of around 60% are ideal, which is a level commonly seen in Japan – seemingly paradoxical land of high blood pressure, heavy smoking, and low coronary heart disease rates.
This measures the EPA and DHA, the two important omega-3 fatty acids, as a percentage of total fatty acids present in your red blood cells. It doesn’t correlate exactly to tissue amounts, but it’s pretty good and a powerful predictor of cardiovascular disease risk. The omega-3 index doesn’t measure omega-6 content, but those with a low omega-3 index are probably sporting excessive omega-6 in their red blood cells.
Anything above 8% corresponds to a “low risk,” but levels of 12-15% are ideal and roughly correspond to the 60% tissue content mentioned by Chris’ article. 4% and below is higher risk and can be viewed as a proxy for increased inflammation (or at least the risk of harmful systemic inflammation developing from normal inflammation).
Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome Score
There’s the systemic inflammatory response syndrome, which is incredibly serious and has four criteria. If you have two or more of them at once, congratulations: you qualify – and should probably see a health professional immediately. This isn’t relevant for low-grade systemic inflammation, like the kind associated with obesity or autoimmune disease.
- Body temperature less than 96.8 F (36 C) or greater than 100.4 F (38 C).
- Heart rate above 90 beats per minute.
- High respiratory rate, 20 breaths per minute or higher.
- White blood cell count fewer than 4000 cells/mm³ or greater than 12,000 cells/mm³.
Of these objective markers to test, I’d lean toward CRP and one of the omega-3 tests. CRP is pretty comprehensive, and, while omega-3 tissue or blood cell content doesn’t necessarily indicate the existence of systemic inflammation in your body, it does indicate the severity of the inflammatory response you can expect your body to have. Taken together, both tests will give you an idea of where you stand.
And now, some subjective markers that I’ve picked up on over the years. These are a few signs and symptoms to watch out for. They may be harmless artifacts, but they may indicate that something systemic is going on.
Flare-up of Autoimmune Conditions You Haven’t Heard from in Ages
Sore joints, dry, patchy, and/or red skin, and anything else that indicates a flare-up. For me, this is usually mild arthritis.
As we discussed last time, acute inflammation is often characterized by swelling at the site of injury. The same effect seems to occur in states of systemic inflammation, although they aren’t localized, but rather generalized.
If you feel stressed, you’re probably inflamed. I’m talking about the kind that has you rubbing your temples, face palming, sighing every couple minutes, and pinching the space between your eyes very, very hard.
Persistent But Unexplained Nasal Congestion
Could be allergies, sure, but I’ve always noticed that when I’m under a lot of stress and generally in an inflamed state, my nose gets clogged. Certain foods will trigger this, too, and I think it can all be linked to a persistent but subtle state of inflammation.
If you fit the bill for the eight signs of overtraining listed in this post, you’re probably inflamed.
Ultimately, though? It comes down to the simple question you must ask yourself: how do you feel?
I mean, this seems like an obvious marker, but a lot of people ignore it in pursuit of numbers. If you feel run down, lethargic, unhappy, your workouts are suffering, you struggle to get out of bed, you’re putting on a little extra weight around the waist, sex isn’t as interesting, etc., etc., etc., you may be suffering from some manner of systemic, low-grade inflammation. Conversely, if you’re full of energy, generally pleased and/or content with life, killing it in the gym, bounding out of bed, lean as ever or on your way there, and your sex drive is powerful and age appropriate, you’re probably good.
And really, isn’t that the most important health marker of all?
Anyway, I hope this was helpful. Systemic inflammation is a pretty nebulous state, and pinning it down can be tough, even with the help of actual objective lab markers. And because inflammation and all the maladies associated with it are so intertwined and feed off each other and have so many different effects, we often feel helpless. Well, try not to pile too much on your shoulders. Get some markers tested if you can, but ultimately it’s going to come down to eating better, moving better, sleeping better, relaxing better, and avoiding too much stress. And if you feel great, I wouldn’t really worry. Don’t be the guy or gal who chases “inflammation,” and don’t go looking for a drug that reduces the liver’s production of CRP. Instead, be the one who eliminates the ultimate cause, or causes (because there are always more than one) of the chronic inflammation. Revisit the list from the end of the last inflammation post and make sure you’re not omitting anything that you should be including or including anything that you should be omitting.
Had an interesting convo with someone about running and how it really is one of the most simple but yet complex sports. But a lot of runners just train to run – to get use to the motion and get their bodies used to it. After a while the wear and tear comes. And then what? I came across an article below that discuss about adding strength training to your routine. As a health enthusiast I always promoted anything to better yourself. As an avid CrossFitter now I realize how important it is to add mobility and power training to your routines. I never felt so functional and yet so strong – without the stiff feeling of the muscle gain. Its truly an amazing way of training and I recommend it for everyone. You have to add variety to your training. It will make you a well rounded athlete. Anyway, read below and feed your brain.
Run Stronger, Run Longer: How Strength Training Benefits Runners
Improve running time to exhaustion
As featured in the Web Only issue of Running Times Magazine
“Strength training is an important component in most professional sports. In distance running, however, we’re in the stone ages,” says Luke Carlson, CEO of Discover Strength and strength coach for many of the elite runners of Team USA Minnesota. Carlson believes that too many distance runners leave certain performance variables to chance when they forego regular strength training.
In the world of ancillary training, there is no other type of “extra” workout that is backed by more academic literature. “The preponderance of peer-reviewed research suggests that strength training improves running performance, whether that’s running economy or time to exhaustion,” Carlson explains.
Stephen Haas, a member of Team Indiana Elite, immediately noticed a difference in both overall performance and health since joining the elite ranks and committing to an organized weekly strength workout. “I really think it has helped us a lot. No major injuries in four years in any of the guys is pretty amazing,” he says.
Brett Gotcher of McMillan Elite in Flagstaff agrees. Over the years he has had coaches who have put less emphasis on strength, but since joining McMillan, he’s seen tangible improvements in his performances. “A lot of times people associate strength training with getting buff,” says Gotcher. “That’s not our purpose at all. I think it is one important aspect that can help make someone that ‘complete’ runner we all strive to be.”
Studies prove effectiveness of strength training
Indeed, the research supports what Haas and Gotcher have seen in practice. A study conducted in 1988 at the University of Illinois, Chicago put runners and cyclists on a resistance-training program for 10 weeks three times per week. Not surprisingly, results showed that leg strength improved by 30 percent. What proved astounding was that, while VO2 max was not affected, quick bouts of running time improved by 13 percent and the athletes were able to ride an average of 85 minutes to exhaustion rather than the 71 minutes they could do before the training program.
In another study published in 2005, researchers assigned participants different training schedules to be performed twice a week for 12 weeks. The groups included running endurance training on its own, strength circuit training on its own, endurance and strength training together and a control group. Lo and behold, the group that combined endurance and strength training improved an average of 8.6 percent in a 4K time trial, increased their V02 max by an average of 10.4 percent and ran to exhaustion 13.7 percent longer than the other groups. This study emphasizes the importance of concurrent strength and endurance training.
In 2008, another study was published that assigned well-trained runners to either a control group or an intervention group — both groups performed a series of half-squats three times a week for eight weeks. Both groups continued their regular running regimen. While V02 max and body weight remained constant, the strength training group’s time to exhaustion at maximal aerobic speed improved by an impressive 21.3 percent.
Put together, a systematic review of the published literature through the spring of 2007 confirmed the positive effects of concurrent resistance and endurance training. Physiologically speaking, the studies measured a collective 4.6 percent improvement in running economy. Of more interest to runners looking for lower PRs, however, is the fact that they identified a 2.9 percent improvement in 3K/5K performances. That’s like going from a 13:30 5K to a 13:06.5.
Different routines, the same result
Again and again, the positive effects of strength training on endurance running performance have been replicated. Putting it into practice is the tough part. As Carlson explains, however, it doesn’t require a significant amount of extra time in the gym. For the Team Minnesota runners Carlson trains, he suggests about 30 minutes of 8–12 exercises, one or two times per week during the competitive season.
Carlson prescribes 6–20 reps of each exercise (some will be fatigued at 6 and others at 20), all done in a slow and controlled fashion to the point of fatigue. During a week with two scheduled strength sessions, he may give a runner the same upper body workouts both days, but varies the leg exercises. He also assigns three different exercises for the midsection: one that involves flexion, one for extension and one that rotates the torso.
Many of the elite runners spend more time doing body weight strength training than pumping iron. Recent runner-up in the USA Women’s Marathon Championships, Katie McGregor’s strength training is mostly sans weights. “I do a series of exercises including planks and hamstring curls with a stability ball. I also do split jumps and step-ups for my lower body,” she says. Depending on the exercise and her current strength, she does about three sets of 10–20 repetitions.
Gotcher makes use of similar exercises twice a week, including jumping jacks (30), side planks (1 minute on each side), step-ups on each leg (15), walking lunges (15), fit ball hamstring curls (10) and donkey kicks (15). In addition, Gotcher and his teammates do two sets of 10 pull-ups and chin-ups and 4–5 sets of 20 push-ups.
At Team Indiana Elite, Haas and his fellow harriers meet for a 90-minute strength and conditioning session twice a week at St. Vincent’s Sports Performance. This includes an intense core routine, which they say isn’t focused on the idea of strength but on avoiding muscle imbalances and maintaining good form.
Based on the various training programs used by the elites, it’s clear that we don’t yet know the ideal strength training routine. What we do know is that strength training in many different forms results in better running economy and an improvement in running time to exhaustion. Put simply, you’ll be able to run faster, longer and stronger.
“At this level, I need every edge I can get,” says McGregor. What’s more, adding this into your routine won’t mean a significant time commitment. As Carlson explains, “You don’t need to strength train that often; consistency is the key.”